VPN on MAC; Select, Setup and Use it

In the face of so much spying and encroachment on personal privacy by NSA, British Intelligence agencies, and other spy organizations in the world, maintaining a tight leash on our private data is difficult.  NSA surveillance programs such as PRISM wiretapping on major private databases in US and AURORAGOLD wiretapping on the world telecommunication networks leaves us with very few options on how to protect our personal space. As a result, many people have opted to go dark on the web by joining the Tor Network while million more don’t know how to secure their personal space. In this article we discuss how to protect your online privacy using a Virtual Private Network on Mac devices.

What is VPN?

As the name suggests, virtual private network (VPN) establishes a private network on a public network like the Internet. In other words, a VPN enables you to share personal files over the internet as if you were directly connected to a private network using an Ethernet cable.

Not just for personal use, VPNs are important accessories for corporate world allowing employees to securely access the company’s intranet outside the office over the internet without compromising on security. Primarily, VPNs are designed to enhance online security and eliminate privacy concerns by concealing your device IP address. As a result, all communications over VPNs are highly encrypted using a virtual tunneling technology that is nearly impossible to crack.

Why would I use a VPN on My Mac?

In general, Mac users are more reluctant to secure their device because of the general belief that Mac OS is immune to security threats and privacy concerns. While that may be true to some extent, the reality is that all devices are vulnerable to cyber threats and privacy escalation concerns. A 2014 security report by Kaspersky indicate that more cyber threats are increasingly being targeted on the Mac users.

In this case, a good Virtual Private Network would help you solve at least half of these problems. First a VPN offers your data a strong end-to-end encryption allowing you to safely browse the web. Virtual tunneling in VPNs eliminate the man in the middle attacks such as DNS hijacking, or eavesdropping by spy agencies.  Additionally, you enjoy a hassle free access to a public Wi-Fi without fear of losing private information to online crooks.

Secondly, a VPN gives Mac users unlimited access to blocked websites and geo-restricted sites in the world.  For instance, video streaming site such as Netflix and Hulu are only available in US and partly in Canada.

Others like the BBC iPlayer and ABC IView are only available in UK and Australia respectively. A VPN will mask your device IP address with virtual IP Address to allow you unlimited access to geo-restricted content on the go. Lastly, bypassing internet restrictions in countries like China or accessing YouTube in Germany is child play when connecting to the internet via VPN.

Which is the Best VPN for Mac?

To start off, there are a decent number of free VPNs for your Mac, but for safety and reliability go for premium VPN subscription. First choose a VPN provider with numerous VPN servers in strategic locations. Secondly, check whether your VPN provider keeps logs.

A good VPN provider should not track your activities or keep logs. Lastly, check on the type of encryption offered. Some encryption such as PPTP are generally weak and not recommend. Other like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) VPN systems and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) are more secure, and a smart choice for Mac. Based on this criteria we recommend using one of the following VPNs for Mac.

  • HideMyAss VPN – like the name suggests, the VPN is a total workaround for Mac, with a standby customer care support and a strong encryption to cover your back when traversing the World Wide Web. HideMyAss has VPN servers in over 100 strategic countries, offering you unlimited access to geo-restricted content for less than $7 a month. It is also one of the fastest VPNs available in the market today. To get HideMyAss on your Mac, Visit HideMyAss.com and create an account, download and Install the VPN client Software on your Mac. Ensure you have administrator’s privileges when running the set up file.  Click here for more information of how to setup HideMyAss VPN on Mac and Windows (if you want to).
  • ExpressVPN – is another brilliant VPN service for Mac, with a round-the-clock customer support, excellent download speeds and a user friendly VPN client software for Mac devices. ExpressVPN has a foothold in over 70 countries with hundreds of servers to route your internet traffic. It has very secure encryption and supports iPhone for no extra charge. To get Express VPN on Mac, visit ExpressVPN.com, create an Account, download the client software and enjoy a 30-day money back guarantee period.
  • PureVPN is good total security package for Mac users. It offers you protection on public Wi-Fi, allows you to surf the web anonymously and keeps off eavesdroppers from your private chats. PureVPN offers top class Https encryption and allows mac users to access geo-restricted sites from anywhere on the globe. To get Hotspot shield, goto purvpn.com and download the Client VPN software. You can either opt for the free download or go for Elite Package which has no Ads and comes with round the clock customer support.

How to Setup VPN connection on Mac?

In general, setting up a VPN connection on Mac is pretty simple. All Mac devices and to a large extent all windows have VPN support. But before setting up, ensure you have the following;

  • Username and Password.- all VPNs require a unique username and Password
  • VPN server Address- this is basically the IP address of the VPN server through which your internet traffic will be routed or a fully qualified Domain Name (FQDM)
  • Networking Protocol.- you have to select the type on VPN connection you want. The most popular VPN networking protocols are layer 2 tunneling protocol (L2TP), Point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP), Internet Protocol Security (IPSEC), OpenVPN and Secure Socket Layer. Generally L2TP and IPsec are more secure than PPTP but they are hard to set up. SSL are easier to set up and more secure than the rest.

How to connect your Mac via VPN?

Once you have a Username & Password, VPN server address and have decided on the connection type, you’re ready to configure your Mac to connect via VPN.  The following steps will aid you through the process.

  1. Open System Preferences, scroll down to Internet and Wireless Section and Select Network.
  2. On the bottom Left, Click +, a pop up window will appear. Under “interface” select VPN, On VPN type, specify your preferred connection type either PPTP or LTP. Finally Click onSetting 1
  3. Select configuration, Name it server 1 and click create. Alternatively, set it to default. Lastly, enter your VPN server IP address or Domain Name and account name as shown in the second figure below.Setting 2
  4. Click Authentication Setting and Enter your Password and Click Ok. Note: if your VPN type is L2TP, select the share secret button as shown in second figure below.Setting 3
  5. At this point the connection is almost done. Remember to show VPN status in menu bar then click Apply as shown in second figure above. A tag like icon will appear on your menu bar. Right Click the Icon and select connect VPN. A timer will appear on the menu bar once the VPN connection is established.
  6. The final step involves sending all your traffic via the VPN. Note; by default your Mac will only send important information through the VPN to avoid throttling your internet speeds.Setting 4

Go back to System preferences and click on Network under Internet and Wireless Section. Now click advanced setting and select “send all traffic over VPN connection”.  Finally, set the order in which data is sent over the VPN.  Go to the Drop down cog menu and select “service order”. Here, drag VPN tag to the Top as shown above and click Ok. At this point your VPN should be up and running.

Conclusion

In this easy to follow tutorial we have discussed, why it important to have VPN for your Mac, how to set up a VPN on Mac and more importantly how to connect to the internet via VPNs. If you follow it carefully, you’re good to go on the Internet now. Note, the tutorial covers general set up method and may differ slightly depending on your device.

Also the three recommended VPN client software discussed here are only the best among the many we’ve reviewed so far and we welcome comments for more reviews. And if you are still having issues, write to us in the comments section below so that we can we could look into your problem.

Top/Featured Image: By Jeff Geerling [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

COMMENTS

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    VPN on MAC; Select, Setup and Use it

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